Friday, December 18, 2009

New Movies Received

Some titles recently received from an admirer

The Caretaker
The Dark Man
Bond Street
Bond of Fear
Account Rendered
The Diplomatic Corpse
Suspended Alibi

How very kind some people are. Thank you John.

NEW FILM ONLINE: "Innocent Sinners"

Year: 1958

Stars: June Archer, Flora Robson, David Kossoff, Catherine Lacey

Director: Philip Leacock

Locations: London

Plot: Girl plants a garden in a bombed out churchyard.

Number of Stills: 39
Number of 'Now' Shots: 27

Monday, December 07, 2009

Richard Todd Dies

Richard Andrew Palethorpe-Todd, actor, born 11 June 1919; died 3 December 2009 of cancer, aged 90, will be best remembered for the films in which he played a wide assortment of clean-cut British heroes. His most famous performance was as Wing Commander Guy Gibson in The Dam Busters (1955), although he also played Robin Hood and Sir Walter Raleigh.

As dour and stiff upper-lipped as any of the characters he portrayed in his highly successful film career in the 1940s and 1950s, he was one of the first members of the Parachute Regiment to jump on D-day – a real-life role he later echoed, albeit at a higher rank, in The Longest Day (1962), the reconstruction of the invasion of Normandy 17 years after the event (another actor posed as Todd himself).

As Gibson, Todd starred as the leader of the daring airborne mission in May 1943 to smash German industry in the Ruhr valley by strategic bombing of its dams, causing massive flooding. The movie retold the story of Barnes Wallis's invention of a bouncing bomb that skimmed the surface of the reservoirs before colliding with the three targets – two of which were destroyed.

Born in Dublin, Todd was the son of an army major of Scots and Irish descent. His early life in England was one of private schools, including Shrewsbury, genteel poverty and family squabbles, usually over his father's drinking and extravagances that included buying a large Chrysler roadster behind his wife's back.

His tear-jerking portrayal of a dying and bitter Scots corporal in his second contract film, The Hasty Heart (1949), made him an instant hot property. Ronald Reagan was in a supporting role, his only appearance in a film made in Britain. The two men stayed in touch and once dined together at 10 Downing Street with a woman they both admired, Margaret Thatcher. Hitchcock used him in Stage Fright (1950), Walt Disney used him in Robin Hood (1952). Todd appeared as Raleigh, alongside Bette Davis, in The Virgin Queen in 1955, made The Sword and the Rose (1953) for Disney and Saint Joan (1957) for Otto Preminger. But he was happiest while filming in England, Never Let Go, although he refused the lead in The Guns of Navarone (1961) and was also unable to accept the role of James Bond – despite being Ian Fleming's first choice – because of other commitments. Sean Connery took the role instead.

Todd, the star of 50 films over 20 year, physically small but sturdy, Todd was more of a realist than many actors, was married twice, in 1949 to Catherine Grant-Bogle, by whom he had a son and daughter, and in 1970 to Virginia Mailer, by whom he had two sons. Both marriages ended in divorce. His son from his first marriage and one of his sons from his second marriage killed themselves. He is survived by his other two children.

Copyright Guardian Newspapers

The 39 Steps

I believe that part of Hannay's chase through the Scottish Highlands was filmed at "Rest and be Thankful" - the A83 road to Inveraray.

I have anecdotal evidence and am currently backing this up with pictures to compare with the film.

Richard Reeve


A bit of information about the film IF.

When McDowell and his mate steal the BSA [?] motorcycle from the showroom they are seen to ride off. The next shot is them riding north along the A5 road just north of Redbourne, Herts. They slow down and pull into the J&H Cafe, a shot of the sign is clear in the film. I knew this location well, because from 1967 to early 1968 I worked for J&H Transport at the garage next door. The Cafe was owned by the Transport Company. The site was to the west of the A5 Road, about 100 mtrs south of what is still the Packhorse Public House on the road that goes to Whipsnade Zoo. Not a good place to eat, but seemed OK for a naked romp.

The site has now been cleared of the old cafe and bungalow used as the area office. A chain-operated petrol station now occupies the site.

If I remember right, J&H was June and Headley Transport.

Yours, John Morgan

The Square Peg - Location Enquiry (part 2)

In answer to your question, a 'militia camp' was a hutted camp built during the the run-up to or during WW2. The buildings within were generally of the wooden "spider" variety as well as 'wriggly tin' Nissen huts. Some buildings such as gymnasia, camp cinemas etc were of a more substantial brick or block structure. They were built as a temporary measure intended only for the duration of the war. However, due to the additional accommodation requirements of post-war National Service as well as the utilisation of several as Displaced Persons (very often Polish) camps, many survived for some considerable period after the war.

Some militia-type camps were sited within or near to existing permanent camps, others were sited remotely.

For your information, the Carry On Sergeant location work was filmed at Stoughton Barracks, Guildford, Surrey.

This was a permanent barracks site and was the regimental depot of the the Queens Royal Surrey Regiment. It was vacated by the MoD some years ago. The fort-like structure you allude to is a "Cardwell Keep". It is typical of the type incorporated in most of the county regimental barracks built in 1870s as a result of the Cardwell reforms.

Although most of Stoughton Barracks has been entirely redeveloped for housing, Stoughton Barracks' Cardwell Keep exists yet, having been converted into residential flats. Other examples of the type exist at York, Hounslow, Lincoln, Kingston, Taunton and elsewhere.

I'm not sure about Private's Progress. I don't know if I've ever seen it.

However, "Tunes of Glory" starring Alec Guinness, John Mills and Dennis Price was filmed at Stirling Castle, which until about 1968 served as the regimental depot of the Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders. Evocative stuff!

Jan A Flaszynski

The Square Peg - Location Enquiry (part 1)


Firstly, may I congratulate you on a very interesting site.

............thank you

I am trying to find the location used for "Battersby Camp" - the barracks used in the Norman Wisdom comedy, "The Square Peg". It was filmed at Pinewood Studios in about 1958.

.............many military camps of the period have long since been torn down or turned into industrial estates. Cardington I remember well, Wilmslow, and wherever it was, near Stratford Upon Avon, where I did my RAF photographic course, are now industrial estates.

It has the appearance of a militia-type camp of WW2 vintage. This type of camp was common of the era and many survived until the end of National Service (c1961). What was a militia camp as opposed to a military camp?

.........almost half a century ago! How about the camp in Private's Progress, or the other one, with a fort-like structure in Carry on Sergeant. Where are they now?

Most Pinewood location work of this era was undertaken within striking distance of Pinewood / Iver, Bucks. As far as I am aware, there were no militia camps still extant in this area at the time of shooting. I suspect that the location was a little further afield.

Any ideas, please?


J A Flaszynski